Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is withdrawing the Pacific nation from the International Criminal Court, which has begun a probe into accusations of crimes against humanity involving Duterte’s deadly anti-drug crackdown.
Duterte’s office released a written statement Wednesday that Manila is “withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” referring to the 1998 treaty that created the ICC. He said the ICC probe amounted to “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on his person as well my administration.”
Amnesty International criticized Duterte’s move.
“This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country’s brutal ‘war on drugs,” Amnesty’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said.“Fortunately for those victims, Duterte’s announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC’s preliminary examination and the Philippines’ obligations towards the court.
The Hague-based tribunal announced last month that it had opened a preliminary examination of a complaint filed last year by a Philippine lawyer over the president’s anti-drug campaign, which has left 4,000 dead since Duterte took office in 2016. Human rights activists say Duterte’s vow to kill thousands of illicit drug dealers have led police to carry out extrajudicial killings of suspected dealers and users.
Police have denied the charges, insisting they only shot armed suspects in self-defense during legitimate anti-drug raids.